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Pentagon: China Uses Coercion to Advance Its Claims in East, South China Seas

© REUTERS / StringerChina's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea in this undated photo taken December, 2016
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea in this undated photo taken December, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The US Department of Defense claimed in an annual report on Tuesday that China is exercising "low-intensity coercion" to assert its control over the disputed areas in the East and South China Seas.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — China is using coercion to assert its control over disputed territories in the East and South China Seas, the US Department of Defense said in an annual report to Congress dubbed Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China.

"China continues to exercise low-intensity coercion to advance its claims in the East and South China Seas," the report said on Tuesday.

An aerial file photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged land reclamation by China on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015 - Sputnik International
US, India Pitch for Freedom of Navigation in South China Sea Irks China
The report explained that during periods of tension, official statements and state media seek to portray China as reactive, but Beijing uses "an opportunistically timed progression of incremental but intensifying steps to attempt to increase effective control over disputed areas and avoid escalation to military conflict."

China has a number of territorial disputes with its neighbors. Beijing has a dispute with Tokyo over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, called the Diaoyu Islands by China.

China claims the entire South China Sea region as its own and is engaged in a bitter dispute with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan who also have counter claims. Beijing has built installations at strategically located islands in the region, which is considered to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources.

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